Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
After one month on the job, I am beginning to get my bearings as the new Director of the Shaker Heights Public Library. In reviewing the files, it was interesting for me to find the previous Director's final report from a year ago. As part of her farewell, she identified issues the she felt would be especially important in the months ahead. The items she discussed were: 1) Internet filtering; 2) the Library and Local Government Support Fund (LLGSF) 3) the charge to save money; and 4) regionalism as a threat to the independence of the Shaker Heights Public Library.
Of course, none of these problems is going away soon. Regarding Internet filtering, especially for children, we may be forced by law to comply as has happened in several states. The State of Ohio is going through some budgetary pains right now that will not be resolved overnight. In the meantime, public libraries will probably face some funding cuts, which we hope will be less than other governmental agencies. It is incumbent upon us to use the resources we do receive wisely. Some see "regionalism" as a way to save money and operate more efficiently. Perhaps there are ways to do that, but merging systems does not seem to be one of them.
There is no doubt that we are going through troubled times with all of these external issues in addition to the usual internal problems. In my 20 years as a public library director and 30 years working in libraries, however, I have seen similar situations and my outlook is that we will make it through.
It reminds me of an "old" song from 1970, "Bridge over Troubled Water," by Simon and Garfunkel. The era of the late ‘60s was a much more troubled period and that song was a message of great hope and turned out to be the folk duo's last and biggest hit. When discussing the title a few years later with a Japanese exchange student, he commented that it was translated quite differently in his country. It was called "Bridge to the Future," which has an entirely different message and perhaps has meaning for us today. After WWII, Japan had overcome many adversities and was, by any measure, a remarkable success. But the Japanese people had their eyes on the future. They weren't interested in just recovering from the war. They had bigger goals.
Shaker Heights Public Library could look at some of the current problems and just hope to get past them, but I believe that we must be proactive. Certainly we have to deal with the present issues, but we also have to plan for and establish structures for the years ahead.
There are building and infrastructure needs, especially at the Main Library. Roofing and carpeting need immediate attention. Other areas to be addressed include updating technology and improving security systems to protect our collections. In addition, we need to continue to find better ways to serve the youth of the community; to improve internal communications; to standardize policies and procedures and to establish organizational goals, objectives, and action steps that will help Shaker Library build that "Bridge to the Future."
E. Dickinson, Director